Nobody ever said anything about the physical pain of grief.
The nausea. The breathlessness.
The stiffness of the body.
The ache at the back of the neck.
The panic attacks that feel like a heart attack.
The cold hands. The dizziness.
For me, grief was always very physical.
And it was the biggest surprise of all.
I knew I would be broken hearted, but I didn’t know my body would suffer as much and for as long.
There were times in my life that I didn’t think my body could make it through a grief experience.
When Bjarne was diagnosed I slept with a paper bag on my face breathing in and out every night as I was hyperventilating for two weeks.
When we got home on diagnosis day, I threw up.
And when we got the news at the doctor’s office I became dehydrated fast.
My body weakens and crumbles in front of grief.
I remember one Sunday, months into my grief journey being alone at home, I could not be with my body.
I couldn’t sit down.
I could not stand still.
Being alive was so uncomfortable.
I could not eat anything the first few months.
I could not swallow.
I could not smell food.
I could not be.
Being inside our own bodies when we have lost someone we loved, is a very hard thing to do.
As I am writing this letter to you, both of my hands are cold just by remembering.
But I have been thinking about this, this week.
Especially because the Holiday season is just around the corner and everyone is eating, drinking and are hosting dinners and parties.
When someone is deeply grieving, their body finds it very hard to be in these gatherings.
Grief is eating us from the inside out, while everyone else is feasting on Holiday food.
The polarity of the experience is almost hard to believe.
And I know it sounds gruesome.
But how can I understate the experience of grief during the Holidays. Its ruthless.
I will not join the world of invisibility by being polite about what it feels like to grieve during the Holidays.
Maybe this letter will find its way to your family and friends, so they know how much your body is in physical discomfort.
So they can take care of you more.
The physical pain of grief is not visible in the same way as the physical pain of a wound, or a broken arm or surgery.
People don’t know that your body is suffering as much as your heart.
Well, let’s tell everyone.
Everyone should know.
And what can they do about it?
I wish you less physical discomfort dear friend, and remember that I know how much your body is suffering during this time.
I wish I could take all your physical and emotional pain away.
I hope this letter brings you comfort in knowing you are not alone.
With physical grieving,
P.S. Starting this Saturday December 14th and throughout the Holidays I will be sharing Dear Life Podcast episodes about grieving during the Holidays. I hope you listen in: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dear-life-with-christina-rasmussen/id1465291728